As a new business owner, your situation is kind of like the chicken and the egg, right? You need customers, but you don’t have a track record to reassure those customers that you can deliver the results they want.


So how exactly do you attract those first customers?


To start, make sure that your target market and the problem you solve are crystal clear, says John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, which provides small business consulting and training. “This way you’ll be able to attract your ideal client more quickly,” he says.


Include your target market and solution in all of your marketing communications, both online and offline. For example, if you provide accounting services to restaurants, you might use wording like this for your website or as a business introduction: “We handle your restaurant accounting, bookkeeping and payroll needs so you can focus on growing your business.”


Next, take care of the basics of starting your business, including getting a business phone number, setting up a Google My Business listing and social media profiles, and creating a website.


Include your target market and solution in all of your marketing communications, both online and offline.


After you’ve completed those steps, consider using these three strategies to get your first customers quickly:


1. Offer something for free

“When you’re a new business, I absolutely recommend taking on free or reduced-rate projects,” says Jantsch. “They provide much-needed proof that you can deliver results.” The key, he says, is to make sure that you get something in return—generally a testimonial, a case study, and/or referrals—assuming you provide what you promised.


Not sure you want to give that much away? If you provide marketing or consulting services, you could start by offering a free webinar or lunch-and-learn session. “You can get your foot in the door by giving your prospect and their team some free tips that can help them,” Jantsch says. “This allows them to get a ‘taste’ of what you’re offering, and makes them more likely to sign on as a client.”


2. Partner with complementary businesses

Businesses often work with other businesses on a daily basis. One example is a commercial cleaning company and a landscaping company. The two companies can provide leads for each other, and even mention or drop off special-offer flyers with customers, says Jantsch. Other common businesses that work together include print shops and graphic designers, financial advisors and accountants, and real estate agents and interior designers.


3. Get business from friends

You may have heard this piece of business wisdom: “People buy from people they know, like and trust.” Your friends know, like and trust you, so they will be more open than others to buy from you.


Case in point: When Glen Muñoz shifted from digital marketing services to a full-service podcast production and distribution company, Pod Pro Audio, he reached out to his friends and let them know about his new business. His first client was someone he knew from college who wanted to launch a podcast to support a new consulting business.


By first covering the basics and then using smart strategies to get first-time customers, you’ll be on the road to growing your new business in no time.

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